If someone where to ask me: “Is their one particular NFL statistic that you would class as indispensable when working against the point spread”? It wouldn’t take me long to respond. The answer–Pass Defense ratings, or PDE for short.
This may come as a surprise to those purists who believe that the NFL is built on the rushing game, but yes, how well a team defends against the pass is a huge predictor of future results and as we will explore in this article–under the right circumstances, it can also directly influence the mind-set and subsequent betting actions of the ‘Average-Joe’ bettor.
As with all of my ‘Team Ratings’, I measure the quality of a teams Pass Defense based on Yards-per-Play averages, compared against the quality of Pass Offenses a team has faced during the season.
As an example: going into the last week of the 2006 season, Chicago ranked 2nd in the league with a PDE Rating of +0.75. This was calculated by taking Chicago’s Yards-per-Pass play average on defense (4.77) and subtracting it from how well their pool of opponents passed the ball themselves (5.52 Yards-per-Pass play on offense). 5.52 – 4.77 = +0.75 (Whether I am calculating an offensive rating, or defensive–a positive number always indicates a team that is better than average, while a negative rating indicates a team that is performing below average in the category we are looking at).
Now that I have explained the math, what are the potential uses for this stat? One particular situation where PDE shows its predictive power is when the team in question has a PDE rating > +0.50 and is coming off a game in which they shut down their opponents ground attack.
The public loves to bet on teams with tough pass defenses and as a result, since 1994, teams with a PDE rating > +0.50 are a dismal 706-789 ATS (47.2%).
This is the first Primary condition for this particular system. The 2nd is that our focus team is coming off a game in which they limited their opponent to less than 75 rushing yards. After this stipulation, the record now becomes 167-260 ATS (39.1%) which would have meant a profit of $7630 betting against this team with $110 wagers at 10/11 odds.
If we include another Primary condition that specifies our team in question also limited their last opponent to less than 60 total offensive plays–we end up with a brutally effective system that is 73-157 ATS (31.7%) since 1994.
Teams with tough pass defenses that are coming off a strong defensive effort–especially in regards to rushing yards against–create a situation that is hard for even seasoned handicappers to lay off of. How can you not like a team that appears to be impenetrable both in the air and on the ground?
Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay have fallen victim to this situation the most over the past 13 seasons with Denver and Baltimore not far behind. This particular system is well distributed, however, as 93.8% of teams in the league have been involved at one time or another since ’94.
There are a handful of Secondary conditions that round out this system. Teams looking to get even after a late field-goal beat them in a previous meeting are not included, as well as games where the opponent is coming in off a Straight-Up Dog win. The full details are below.
(Notes: ASM stands for Average Spread Margin and TDIS% is the percentage of teams in the league that have been involved in this system at one time or another. WT% is the percentage of teams that are .500 or better and SPR is the average Spread for teams in this system.)
System #46 Summary
Primary Conditions (Building Blocks)
1) Pass Defense Rating (PDE) > +0.50.
2) Last game Rushing Yards Against (RYA) < 75. 3) Last game Total Plays Against (TPA) < 60. Secondary Conditions (Tighteners) 1) Exclude Clutch FG Loss in Last Meeting (LM4). 2) Over Under < 44 in the Current Game. 3) Opponent not off a SU Dog win. System Stats ASM: -5.5 Home%: 42.7 Dog%: 33.1 TDIS%: 93.8 WT%: 83.4 SPR: -2.54 Top Teams: PIT(17); TB(14); DEN(13); BAL(9) System Records Overall (Since '94): 28-118 ATS 2006 Season: 4-13 ATS 2005 Season: 0-9 ATS 2004 Season: 5-11 ATS Last 3 Results (Pick in Brackets) 2006 WK19--IND 15 BAL 6 (BAL -4) L 2006 WK16--NE 24 JAC 21 (JAC -3) L 2005 WK16--BAL 31 PIT 7 (BAL +3.5) W